Epson 1520, Subtle banding in midtones

Discussion in 'Digital Cameras' started by Grant Robertson, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. I have an Epson Stylus Color 1520 printer. I have only just now started
    experimenting with printing digital photographs. The prints I am getting
    so far have a subtle horizontal banding in the midtone areas of the
    print. It is not noticeable in the darkest 10% or the lightest 5% of the
    range. The banding shows up as a super fine line only 1 or 2 pixels high
    (that's the printers pixels not the picture's pixels) that is the same
    color as the surrounding area but only about half as dark as that
    surrounding area. The shading of the light line is always in proportion
    to that of the surrounding area instead of being constant across the
    page. Also, rather than being separated by the width of the print head,
    the banding is only .015" to .025" apart. This distance does vary
    slightly when I change various settings or if I print a large image on a
    small area of the page. (Note: it does not vary in proportion to the size
    of the printed area. If I print the same file at 10" tall and 2" tall the
    banding only varies by about .005".)

    I have checked and cleaned the print heads multiple times. All the little
    lines in the print head check show up fine. I have the latest driver,
    which hasn't been updated in ages. I have tried every possible variation
    of the printer settings when I print. I have printed a .PSD file using
    PhotoShop 5.0 LE and a .JPG file directly from my 4 MP digital camera
    using ACDSee 3.1. I have printed in portrait and landscape mode. In every
    instance there is banding and the banding is always the same except for
    the slight variation in spacing. Naturally, the banding goes in the same
    direction as the print head travels regardless of the rotation of the

    I have had this printer for over 4 years and have been primarily using it
    for regular document printing and printing some large network diagrams so
    I haven't had an opportunity to notice any banding in the past. I have
    also been using off brand ink but switched back to Epson ink and Epson
    photo glossy paper for printing the photographs.

    The fact that the banding disappears in the darkest areas leads me to
    believe that it isn't a clogged head or it would still show up even
    there. The fact that the width varies slightly also seems to indicate
    that the problem is not hardware based. Can anyone suggest something I
    might try other than just buy a new printer?
    Grant Robertson, Jun 9, 2004
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  2. I forgot to mention: I am doing all this on a Windows XP Pro machine w/
    plenty of RAM and processing power.
    Grant Robertson, Jun 9, 2004
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  3. Grant Robertson

    andrew29 Guest

    I suspect bidirectional printing. Tell us what exactly options you
    are using in the printer driver. Some of these might be hidden behind
    an "advanced" tab.

    andrew29, Jun 17, 2004
  4. Well, I have tried just about every combination of settings that were
    reasonable to try. (I.e. I didn't try 100 dpi) But here are the settings
    that seemed to give the best results but still not perfect:

    --[Printing Preferences]
    ------Orientation = Portrait
    ------Page Order = Back to Front
    ------Pages Per Sheet = 1
    --------Paper Size = Letter
    --------Copy Count = 1
    --------Print Quality = Super Fine
    --------ICM Method Handled by Host System
    --------ICM Intent = Pictures
    --------Advanced Printing Features = Enabled
    --------Printable Area = Maximum
    --------Override with Presets = OFF (Manual)
    (Automatically chosen when I chose 'Super Fine' above.)
    --------High Speed = Off (Grayed out)
    --------Microweave = On (Grayed out)
    --------Halftone = Error Diffusion
    --------Finest Detail = Off (Grayed out)
    (Automatically chosen when I chose 'Super Fine' above.)
    --------Flip Horizontal = Off
    --------Driver Color Adjustment (Grayed out)
    ------Paper Source = Automatically Select
    (I always use the manual feed slot for photo paper.)
    ------Media = Photo Quality Glossy Paper
    (And I really am using photo quality glossy paper.)
    ------Quality Settings = Custom
    ------Color = Color
    ------[Advanced] (It's just the same as above.)
    (I have done all the print head checks and alignments
    and everything checks out OK.)
    <Sharing> = Not Shared
    <Ports> (I have tried it with and without the print server
    and it makes no difference.)
    --(x) Always Available
    --Priority = 1
    --Driver = Epson Stylus COLOR 1520 ESC/P 2
    (This is the most recent driver available.)
    --(x) Spool print documents...
    ----(x) Start Printing immediately
    --[ ] Hold Mismatched Documents
    --[x] Print Spooled Documents first
    --[ ] Keep printed documents
    --[x] Enable Advanced Printing Features
    --[Printing Defaults]
    (All the same as {<General> / [Printing Preferences]}
    --[Print Processor]
    (I didn't have any idea what these did
    so I did not mess with them.)
    ----Print Processor = WinPrint
    ----Default data type = Raw
    --[Separator Page] = none
    <Color Management>
    --(x) Automatic
    --Color Profile = EE028_1
    (This is the only one in the list.
    Note: I think the color is coming out beautifully.)
    <Device Settings>
    --Form to Tray Assignments = all set to letter.

    Notice that there is no setting for bidirectional printing per se.

    Thanks for your help.
    Grant Robertson, Jun 17, 2004
  5. Grant Robertson

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi Grant...

    With all due respect, I wonder if it's possible that
    now you've graduated to better (and much much heavier/
    thicker paper) you've forgotten to tell the printer
    about it?

    On my older Epson it's a mechanical lever under the
    cover - marked just + and 0.

    Take care.

    Ken Weitzel, Jun 17, 2004
  6. Grant Robertson

    Rick Guest

    I'd double check your print head for clogged nozzles.


    Rick, Jun 17, 2004

  7. this is the usual cause of banding - wrong head height above paper.

    David Kilpatrick, Jun 17, 2004
  8. As I said before, I have checked, double-checked, and triple-checked
    them. I even took a magnifying glass and looked to see if any of the
    lines in the head check printout were there but a little bit weaker than
    the others. But they were all consistent in thickness and density.
    Remember, the darkest 10% has no banding whatsoever. A clogged head would
    show banding in ALL areas.
    Grant Robertson, Jun 18, 2004
  9. Actually, I had been setting the printer to the + setting for the thicker
    photo paper as recommended. But I found that the banding was less obvious
    on the 0 setting. Now it is 'tolerable' but still there. I figure if I
    print to larger paper then people will never get close enough to even
    notice the banding unless they are just intentionally being picky.
    Grant Robertson, Jun 18, 2004
  10. Grant Robertson

    Ken Weitzel Guest

    Hi Grant...

    That's weird... I wonder if one or the other of us
    has a faulty printer?

    Mine is fine (as best my old eyes can tell) with 65
    pound paper on the + setting; yet if I use it on
    0 it "scratches" the paper. Scratches may not be the
    best word, but it sure leaves marks or slight
    deformities on it.

    I just tried it again by feeding a blank sheet through,
    at + printing nothing on it, and then looked at it closely.
    No marks at all, perfect sheet of paper. Ran it
    through again at 0 and the sheet is marked.

    Take care.

    Ken Weitzel, Jun 18, 2004
  11. Well, my photo glossy paper says it is 52 lb paper. So maybe that is the
    difference there. The experienced trouble-shooting technician in me says
    to look at all possible options, especially the not so likely ones. So
    there is the slightest possibility that my print head is actually too far
    from the paper and my 0 setting puts it about where your + setting does.
    But this is not likely.

    Besides, there is still ink being printed in the fine horizontal lines
    that are lighter than they should be. As I said, it is only about 50%
    lighter than it should be in that line. And, as you go across the page,
    all those fine banding lines disappear when they go into darker areas. I
    have also noticed that they almost entirely disappear when they go
    through solid red areas.

    All of these factors really make me think it is actually a driver
    problem. I think the only reason it is lessened when I set the print head
    to the 0 setting is that it is just printing more densely and therefore
    filling in the fine lines better.

    Well, thank you everyone, for all your help. I don't think I am ever
    going to completely solve this problem. I knew it wasn't going to be a
    perfect photo printer when I bought it but since it was so close I
    thought I might as well try to make it perfect.
    Grant Robertson, Jun 19, 2004
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